Maggie Robben didn’t allow herself to get emotional on the deck Jan. 11 as she swam in her last Smoky Hill Invitational.
The Smoky Hill senior knows her time is running short with the program she’s been a part of for entire high school career.
Robben narrowly missed winning both of her individual events, but enjoyed the energy and camaraderie of the meet for the final time.
“It’s bittersweet,” Robben said. “It’s like I’ve been here for four years, it’s time to move on, but at the same time, I’m going to miss this so much.”
Robben certainly went out with a bang at the Smoky Hill Invitational, with second place finishes individually in both the 200 yard individual medley and 100 yard breaststroke as well as legs on two top-four relays.
She had the breaststroke title within her grasp, but Heritage freshman Aislyn Barnett caught fire at the finish to edge Robben by less than a second and set the meet record.
“Obviously I would have liked to win, but I’m happy with it,” Robben said. “I went out as fast as I could and I didn’t win, but that’s life. It was around my best time and really good for a midseason meet.”
Robben is in the midst of a very memorable senior season thus far, a season in which is she being deliberate in balancing competition, fun and enjoyment of her team.
Before winter break, she was announced as one of three co-winners of the prestigious Hoyt Brawner Award, which goes to the state’s top senior swimmer/scholar/citizens as voted by coaches.
Boosted by the endorsement of Smoky Hill coach Scott Cohen — who described her as one of the “most devoted and outstanding swimmers I have ever coached in my 26 years at Smoky Hill” and the “perfect role model” — Robben carried on a long tradition of winners for the program.
“It was just an honor to be nominated because it’s such a prestigious award and I’m glad that I got to share it with two other great people (Heritage’s Isabella Bassock and Mika Kania, who coincidentally also competed in the Smoky Hill Invite),” Robben said. “I was really happy with it and definitely surprised. It’s a huge honor.”
Another memory from her senior year that neither Robben, nor Cohen, will forget any time soon came in Smoky Hill’s Dec. 12 Centennial League dual meet at Cherry Creek.
Robben and Cohen’s daughter, Katie — now a freshman at Cherry Creek, his alma mater — grew up swimming together at Piney Creek, but had never gone head-to-head because they were in different age groups.
They ended up in lanes next to each other during the 100 breaststroke and with Scott Cohen watching in amazement, swam stroke for stroke the entire way before touching the wall at the exact same time, a rarity in swimming.
“I’ve coached both of them since they were really little, so for them to tie for me was surreal,” Cohen said. “It’s not a good thing, bad thing, or anything else, it was just strange. They were right next to each other, stroke for stroke all the way until the end.
“I know it meant a lot to my daughter because Maggie is like a hero to her.”
Robben and Katie Cohen also swam in the same lane in both the prelims and finals of the Rex Abelein meet.
Robben signed her National Letter of Intent to swim at Seattle University, which has harvested quite a few Colorado swimmers (including another standout from an Aurora program in Regis Jesuit distance swimmer Manna Nelson) .
Her versatility is something her future coach greatly values.
“One thing about Maggie is the number of different events she swims and that she scores well in every one of them across the board,” Seattle coach Craig Nisgor said in a statement about his team’s recruiting class.
“She currently has times that would put her among our top 10 list and score at conference. I’m excited for her to be here.”
Robben can’t wait to get to the next level from a competition standpoint.
“I’m super excited, especially to be going DI,” Robben said. “I know I have untapped potential and knowing I will be swimming and training with people faster than me will be a big help.
“For now, I’m just going to enjoy all the time I have with my team because I know that’s not going to happen again. I’m excited for the end of the season.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports